Truth OR Myth – Human Rights, The Very Name Is Racist (Revisited)

Hello and welcome to the 100th episode Truth OR Myth,  a Star Trek web series that looks at the Truth, or canon information, to dispel any of the myths that have surfaced on a given topic.  In today’s episode we’re going back to revisit my very first episode of the series and ask the question, were the Klingons Justified in their feelings about the United Federation of Planets and to start the war as seen in Star Trek Discovery?  Have I changed my views on this topic?  Has my view grown since episode 1?  Certainly, my video has style has changed…  So sit back, relax, grab some Klingon Blood wine and celebrate the 100th episode with me, I hope you enjoy…

Well here we are, 100 episodes of Truth OR Myth and I just want to say thank you!  When I started this channel, I never dreamed it would grow to over 33000 subscribers and 6 million video views.  So thank you for making this an exciting and rewarding experience for me!  You Trekkies and Trekkers are the best!  Thank you!

Love it or leave it, Star Trek: Discovery is definitely a conversation piece.  Set 10 years before Captain James T. Kirk’s historic Journey aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, Discovery follows Michael Burnham and her journey from fall to redemption during the first Federation/ Klingon War.  But one big question that has always plagued me is were the Klingon Justified in starting the war?  Well today, we find out…

The United Federation of Planets is an organization dedicated to exploring the cosmos, contacting new alien races and bringing them into the Federation as partners and allies within the Milky Way Galaxy.

Founded in 2161 by Earth, Vulcan, Andor, Tellar and a few other races, the Federation would become a very influential and positive force within the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.

(CBS) Captain Jonathan Archer unites the Tellarites and Andorians in order to form a joint fleet with the Vulcans and Humans

The Federation is an amalgamation of different like-minded cultures.  Exploration and generally being helpful is their motto.  Let’s work together to make the galaxy a better place.  This in itself however is a problem when it comes to getting two diametrically opposed races, Humans and Klingons together as allies, but that’s not really the larger problem.

In contrast to the Federation, the Klingons at first glance are a warrior race.  One which prides itself on honour and Strength.  But when you dig deeper, you find a very complex society with its own set of laws and rules.  Killings and deaths are a standard part of daily Klingon life.  Become cowardly or infirm and it’s you’re time to go, and Klingon law and society supports this.

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Era we know the Federation is at peace and an ally to Klingon Empire.  The two powers tend to generally work well together, so what changed?  How did this become possible?

The Federation has high ideals and if we analyze how these ideals most likely came to be we can see a HUGE problem with the Federation.   I’ve always pictured all the founding races of the Federation in a room together laying out the rules and regulations that all the member worlds would have to live by.  And given that all those races are culturally similar those rules work well.  Even the creation of the Prime Directive, most likely proposed by the Vulcan race, makes it seem like the Federation is definitely the good guys.  But it’s my opinion that in Discoveries and TOS’s ERA they’re not.  The federation is suffering from a belief in its own propaganda and good wishes.  A belief that blinds them to the realities of both themselves and contact with alien races.

(CBS) The Crew of the U.S.S. Discovery

T’Kuvma is very clear in his opinion of the Federation and what he believes to be their lies.  When Captain Georgiou says, “We come in Peace,” He goes off on an angry tirade about how that actually means the destruction of the Klingons sense of individuality and their culture, a feeling that would be echoed by the Klingons of Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country.

Nick Myers, who wrote Star Trek VI, has said we’ve seen the ending, now let’s see the beginning.  In that movie, we hear a line that seems to be the entire basis for season 1 of Star Trek: Discovery, and she’s right Human rights, IS a racist term.  Especially when you consider that humanity is but a mere fraction of all the races in Star Trek Universe.  It shows that although the Federation is supposed to respect and value other cultures they mistakenly believe that their way is the right and the only way…

Imagine if the Klingon Empire were to become a part of the United Federation of Planets in Star Trek: Discovery and The Original Series Era, what would happen? 

Many times in TOS we see Captain Kirk bestow the virtues of the Federation and the Prime Directive to anyone within earshot,  but does the Federation actually follow the Prime Directive?  And the simple answer is, only when it suits them…

In the TOS episode, “A Taste of Armageddon,” we can clearly see this problem with the United Federation of Planets.  Eminiar 7 is a world that has been at war for centuries with their neighbouring planet Vedikar, but instead of using bombs and guns against their enemy, they use computers to calculate casualties instead and then those individuals are sent to disintegration chambers to meet their fate.  In warps the Enterprise with orders from Starfleet to make contact with the Eminians and the Eminians immediately say they don’t want to have contact, then an ambassador representing the Federation orders the Enterprise to the planet anyhow.  That’s the first violation of the prime directive right there.  Don’t alien races have the right to govern their own space and have a say as to who is allowed to enter it?  Shouldn’t Kirk have been able to say no to the ambassador, that approaching Eminiar 7 would be violating general order 1 and that then would be that?

(CBS) “A Taste of Armageddon”

Continuing on, the Enterprise crew is calculated as a casualty in the computer war, so what does Kirk do?  Does he find a way to beam up and get the Enterprise out of orbit and out of Eminian and Vendikan Space?  Does he beam down his crew to support General Order 1 and atone for the first violation they made?  Of course not, instead he goes on to destroy one of the death chambers and threaten the planet with real annihilation from the Enterprise’s weapons.  In the end, Kirk and Spock destroy the war computer and it is implied that the ambassador is going to help establish diplomatic relations between Eminiar and Vendikar in order to hammer out a peace treaty.  See the problem yet?

The Federation is very clear about the Prime Directive, a sentiment that is echoed in Kirk’s log entry from the episode “The Omega Glory“.

But when the Federation decided, hey we want this, suddenly General Order 1 was thrown out the window…  And a Government that can not abide by its own fundamentals, or in this case, laws, certainly doesn’t deserve to be held up as a model society.

There are so many problems that comes from this wishy-washy approach to this first law of theirs.  I mean, by violating it when they want to, how do they impose justice when it’s defied?  Who decides what Captain was right for violating the law and which one wasn’t?  What’s their line in the sand when it comes to violating General Order 1, I would think to destroy an entire cultures belief system along with their war technology, would be light years passed that line…  But apparently not.

Now I’m not saying that what Kirk did isn’t morally correct, from a human standpoint, but what I am saying is what right did the Federation, specifically Kirk have to do what he did.  It was an alien planet with their own customs and laws then the Federation swooped in and said, we don’t like this and we’re going to change it. Doesn’t the Prime Directive protect other races from exactly this type of interference?  And that’s only one example, there are many from TOS.

(CBS) A Prime Example of the Prime Directive being broken “Who Watches The Watchers” – TNG

So that just goes to show that though the Federation loves to bring up the Prime Directive and bestow its virtues on the universe, the reality is that the Federation only approves of races that conform to its own ideals.  And before you say, “that’s not true,” think about it, Kirk disobeyed the Prime Directive directly and was never punished for that.  And from that, We can infer that the Federations supported his actions.  After all, if they didn’t, if they truly upheld their laws, Kirk would be rotting away in a cell on the Tantalus Penal Colony…

Now back to the Klingon Empire.  The idea of peace with the Empire would be great, but what would the Federation do the moment the Klingons conquered another race?  Would this era’s Federation say,  “that’s ok, remember we have  general order 1?”  As desperate calls for help come from that conquered race?  As the Klingons begin killing that races leaders do you believe the Federation of this era turns a blind eye?  Or would they bring sanctions against the Klingon Empire for behaving exactly as it always had?  Admonishing them as though they had done something wrong…  How can you have peace that way?

The answer, you cant.  In order for the Klingon Empire to be at peace in this Era with the Federation would mean that one side would have to give up a lot of its values and morals.  That means it’s more likely that the Klingon Empire, one race would have to give up its values to conform to the Federation’s, many races, norms.  Is that really fair? 

There’s a word for that, assimilation.  Through out human history, we have many examples of people, governments and religions forcing others to live the way those entities think they should, rather than live life as they always had.  Assimilation doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but it often becomes one.

I’m sure we can all state instances where assimilating lead to positive things, such as improved medical care and education.  But at the same time, a Race that is being assimilated can lose their own individuality because the forced assimilation comes with a price tag, one that reads, you live and act like us or else.  And the Federation is no different in that respect.  For them resistance is futile, the Federation Way is the Right Way.  It’s very Borg in how it thinks really, but at least the Borg tell you directly they’re going to assimilate you as opposed to citing rules and laws like the Prime Directive in order to lull you into a false sense of security.

(CBS) Klingon Warriors

So, of course to the Klingon Empire would look at the Federation like a disease spreading across the quadrant assimilating species after species and making them conform to their way.  Much like Native Americans Tribes viewed their European Conquers back in the day.  And of course, they’d want to fight back and stop that.  Imagine if someone came to you and told you how NOW you have to live?  Saying something ridiculous like you want to be a citizen in this country you have to live by the following rules, anyone over 50 is to be killed and you must open every dialogue with a knife fight, would you fight against that to preserve your humanity your cultural identity?  Well, the Klingons are no different.

They’ve grown their culture for 1000’s of years just as we have, so what right do we have to go and tell them how they have to live?  That their way is the wrong way?  The answer; None. We see the United Federation of Planets and it’s valued as correct and decent, but what we tend to forget is that there are always other viewpoints and the Klingons values are no less correct than ours.  There really is no impartial person that can go ahead and examine both cultures and decide who’s a way to live is better.  We just believe our moral compass is correct because it’s been ingrained in our brains as far back as we can remember.

Now personally, of course, I agree that the Federation is how we should mould the future, and I believe, like most of you, that the moral values of the Federation are the right moral values.  No one should be killed for growing old or being dishonoured, but what I believe has no bearing on the reality of this situation.  And the Federation, that has all these high moral values would become unable to stop itself from interfering in the affairs of the Klingon Empire, why?  Well simply because it’s our way…

By the Star Trek: The Next Generation era it seems the Federation has changed a lot.  The Prime Directive is more strictly adhered to, to at times, almost painful results.  And I imagine these fundamental changes came directly from the Khitomer Accord Peace Treaty with the Klingons.  When dialogue was established and a peace treaty was hammered out by the 2 galactic powers,  the Federation most likely realized that they had to change how they did things.  That the benefits of peace with an Alien Government so different from their own, outweighed any of the negative problems they could have to deal with in the future. That in order to make this a true and lasting peace they had to abide by the meaning of their words.  They might not always like it, but it had to be done.

(CBS) TNG “Journeys End”

But even so, they still had problems following the Prime Directive.  Both TNG’s episode “Journey’s End“, where Starfleet has decided to relocate a Native American Population from their homes in favour of a Treaty with the Cardassian Union or Star Trek: Insurrection, where the Federation agree to secretly relocate a planet’s population so they can benefit from de-ageing medical technology makes this clear.  But generally speaking in TNG era, the Federation tends to see things in a more enlightened way, a way that says, you allow a race to be itself and appreciate it for that diversity and those races will appreciate you back, and allow you to live like you.

But in the end,  T’Kuvma was right.  The Federation would have either expected the Klingons to confirm to Federation ideals or they would have ended up going to war anyhow.  Those were really the only 2 options, so the Klingon Empire made a choice to draw a line in the sand, that they would fight to keep their culture and their identity.  And to me, they made the right choice, not only for themselves but for the United Federation of Planets and it’s growth into a symbol that could be honoured and cherished for centuries to come…

Thank you for watching today’s 100th episode of Truth or Myth, do you think the Klingon Empire was justified in starting a war with the Federation?  Do you think the high ideals of the United Federation of Planets are simply too high to live up to?  Well leave your comments in the section below and don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to the channel, hitting that little bell icon so you won’t miss a single video we release.

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Thanks again for watching,  and making the past year a half a great one.  And so, live long and Prosper…

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